Ask Me Anything

Extraterrestrial civilization have visited our planet. International community decided that you will be the one to ask our visitors questions. Let’s assume we can communicate freely with our guests. If you could ask only one question, what would it be and why?
Seth Shostak (Senior Astronomer and Director of the Center for SETI Research at SETI Institute)

Do you have music?

Paul Carr (Space Systems engineer at NASA, podcaster, blogger, investigator)

An alien way of thinking might be very alien indeed, but I will assume they are advanced enough, and possess a sufficiently rich conceptual framework to translate our human meaning. Still, it’s probably best at first to avoid anything too value laden, such as “why are you here?”, “do you want to help us?”, or “do you like my poetry?”. Instead, there are many key facts that they would know that we don’t, and it’s hard to pick just one.

I think I would start with: “is the the first time you have attempted to contact our species?”. That would help set the context, and the answer would drive some of the subsequent questions.

Antonio Paris (Astronaut Candidate, Astronomy Professor, Planetary Scientist, Space Science Author)

The visitation of an extraterrestrial civilization would be marked as one of the most pivotal moments in human history. If I could participate in a welcoming committee or scientific panel to welcome and address out visitors, the question I would ask is why are you visiting Earth?

Andrew Rader (SpaceX engineer, MIT PhD, author)

I would want to know about how their power or propulsion systems worked so we could replicate it. Seems like people who get “abducted by aliens” are always more concerned with strange personal or medical details, but the most important thing would clearly be to learn about the technological fields that evidently brought them here.

Ciro Villa (technologist, application developer, STEM communicator)

Well, if I could, my question would be “Can I ask you more than one question?”….but joking aside, perhaps the question I would ask is: “Why did you come here?”. I think that among the so many questions, this would be one that could help us understand several things including the intentions of these beings (assuming they would not be lying of course) and could give us some hints regarding our own survival (or destruction at their hands).